Marginalidade Marginal. A marginal is an individual peripheral to or excluded from mainstream Brazilian society. In the colonial period this term referred to the landless, colored poor occupying a stratum between masters and slaves. As neither slaves nor salaried workers in an export-based, slave economy, they were denied steady employment. The Portuguese state tried to repress them and subject them to the most menial and dangerous forms of occasional employment, including manning frontier forts and capturing Indians, runaway slaves, and criminals.
In the late nineteenth century, marginalidade became associated with vagabondage. It was linked to modernization, urbanization, social dislocation, racial discrimination, and the breakdown of traditional social controls such as personal honor and rural patronage. The criminalization of socially deviant forms of behavior such as drunkenness, unemployment, and banditry, and of the Afro-Brazilian form of self-defense known as Capoeira, provided a source of free labor that eased the transition from slavery. Persons guilty of these forms of social deviance were arrested and forced to labor on public works projects, for private landowners, or as army recruits as part of their social redemption. Marginality offered a structural challenge to political stability and public order, two values that the Brazilian Empire and First Republic held dear. Today "marginality" is still used to describe the criminal behavior of those on the fringes: the poor, the homeless, the racially mixed, and the unemployed.
See alsoCoronel, Coronelismo .
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Judy Bieber Freitas